Down in the Dumps-ter

It was the first evening of John and Val’s Marvelous Adventure, which we were spending at the Governor Jim Hogg City Park, a pleasant little place in Quitman, Texas after a drive of about 425 miles from Hattiesburg. We had eaten take-out from a close-by Mexican restaurant so as not to leave our two poor canines in our camper too long without the protective comfort of their parents, not to mention adult supervision. The evening was quite cool, and I had gotten my prized Texas map out of the car and was taking a small bag of trash out to a nearby dumpster. The dumpster was about five feet tall with a four inch ledge on each side and was empty except for some recently cut shrubbery. I apparently had one of those increasingly common senior moments and threw the map in with the trash. This map had sentimental value; after all, I had actually talked to the AAA lady; we had bonded; we were tight. It arrived, along with three others, in the proverbial nick of time, the day before our departure.

Reaching in, even standing on the ledge to do so, would not work. Still over a foot out of reach. Apparently senior moments—this was a new discovery for me—are sequential and closely timed, so I stood on the ledge, threw my right leg over the top, found the floor, and noticed that my left leg was vigorously protesting this foolishness by catching itself on the edge, threatening to drop the shoe on the outside. Finally the foot bowed to the apparent inevitable and came on inside with the rest of me. I put my recovered treasure in my back pocket, and finally started to consider the challenge of getting out. This, or at least so I deceive myself, would have been no problem to that 30 year old me, even without an accommodating ledge on the inside. I put my hands on the edge and pushed up. My feet came off the floor, but the prospect of trying to put one of them on the edge seemed to be an open invitation to tumbling over for a five foot fall with no assurance of what would hit first—all this on the first day of the trip, which seemed unnecessarily early for a hospital visit.

I stared forlornly at our little camper, all lit up and warm inside, a mere thirty yards away. I had been already gone for a good fifteen minutes, but did my lovely wife choose to inquire why a thirty yard trip to the dumpster was taking so long? As a matter of fact, no. Had I been sufficiently provident to take my phone with me? Again, no. Yelling seemed a bit unseemly, and I began to wonder what a night in a dumpster might be like. My arthritis-riddled shoulders were complaining about the push-ups, but there seemed no alternative. Still, going over the edge with one big heave seemed to promise unpleasant consequences. I tried hoisting myself on the plastic flap on the other half of the dumpster, but it was designed for thinner people finding themselves in this situation. I began to regret those days in tenth grade geometry that I had characteristically spent preoccupied with thoughts of the fair sex, motorcycles, track and field, and other distracting amusements. But at long last, a possible solution presented itself. I pushed some of the almost non-existent trash into a corner, thinking that a corner, with one hand on each side, would be more stable than a one-dimension side. I stood on the meager pile, gave a gentler push into a straight arm position with my feet above my improvised platform, managed to lift my right leg up, and—the details are a little sketchy here—ended up on the outside feet first.

Damned map. Google maps are better anyway. If I can find another dumpster, that baby is history.

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